The prognosis for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be a devastating blow. Hearing from a doctor that you’ll need to use supplemental oxygen as part of your treatment, and the idea of being tethered to an oxygen tank, can take some time to get used to.
Take courage – you’re not alone.
With certain changes to your lifestyle and home, you’ll be able to comfortably adjust to living with supplemental oxygen and COPD.
Basics of Supplemental Oxygen
Supplemental oxygen is prescribed for people having trouble getting enough oxygen when they breathe. Supplemental oxygen comes in two forms: compressed oxygen and liquid oxygen.
Compressed oxygen comes in large aluminum or steel tanks. These tanks come in different sizes, which helps with versatility of use, but they still tend to be bulky.
Liquid oxygen devices are smaller and easier to carry than compressed oxygen, but that convenience comes with some negatives. One is that liquid oxygen evaporates over time.
Make Your Home More Suitable for Supplemental Oxygen
As you adjust your routine to accommodate oxygen equipment, it’s important to make your home friendly to supplemental oxygen.
As a reminder to yourself, guests and fellow residents, post signs around your home asking people to not smoke or use open flames. Oxygen is flammable, which makes the supplemental oxygen tank a potential fire hazard in close proximity to an open flame.
Store spare oxygen containers in a safe place at least 5 feet from heat sources such as stoves, fireplaces, furnaces and heaters.
Avoid accidents is by clearing pathways in your home for you and your oxygen tank. Make sure your floors are clean and not cluttered with objects which can cause you to trip or catch your oxygen tank.
Know Your Needs
When adjusting to your new routine involving supplemental oxygen, it’s vital to know how much oxygen you need. Be familiar with your treatment plan and your oxygen flow rate, meaning the rate at which you should be taking in supplemental oxygen.
Once your doctor has given you your flow rate, stick with it. Too much or too little oxygen can be damaging to the body.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.